What is Yoga: a modern history

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Finally, the answers to all your questions!

WHAT IS YOGA?

The practice of yoga involves far more than the sequences of postures, breathing exercises, and meditations that we do in the studio. In fact, it has an incredibly rich history that goes back thousands of years. In the last century in particular, since yoga’s popularization in the West, the practice has undergone tremendous change and diversification.
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With an eye to this larger question, ‘What is Yoga?’, over 6 weeks we’ll examine the various dimensions of the philosophy and practice of yoga, from its revival in India in the late-nineteenth century, through its early-twentieth century modernization and migration westward, up to its current commercialization with myriad styles and hybrids.
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Each class will include a reading, a short presentation, group discussion, and a short meditation. The reading for the first class, which presents an excellent overview of the material to be covered, can be found here.
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The countdown has begun (10 days!); the journey through modern yoga history is imminent. The teacher is ready, the schedule is set, what are you waiting for? The time machine through yoga history takes off Thursday, Nov. 3, at 6pm. It runs on Thursdays, 6-8pm, from November 3 to December 15, with a break in the middle for Thanksgiving.
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Book your passage here.
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Note: If you can’t commit to all 6 weeks, you can still drop in to individual classes.
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Do you communicate via Facebook and prefer to register your excitement there?
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Still have questions? (Don’t we all.) Shoot me an email through the form below, or just turn up on the first day. Bring loads of questions. I can’t wait.
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Namaste.
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Aum for my Autumn Teaching Schedule

Don’t you just love those crisp fall mornings with the clear sun, the feeling of freshness, the smell of  morning dew … This season is such a natural time to come back inside physically and mentally, reconnecting with yourself, returning to familiar routines, and remaining attuned to circadian rhythms. Much as I love this time of year, I also know how hard it can be to find your way onto the yoga mat on the cooler and darker days. The body’s just a little bit stiffer, whines a little bit more, makes all kinds of excuses why now is not the best time to fit in your yoga practice.

Well, that’s where I come in. I’ve got a full spate of classes for the fall months with plenty of morning and evening options. So whatever suits your temperament best, choose a time and keep your date on the mat!

Step 1: Check out my Fall Teaching Schedule. There are a few changes to note: September 27 will be my last Tuesday morning Gentle Yoga class at Thomaston Yoga Studio. And from October 12, my Thursday evening Yoga+Meditation class in Thomaston will shift to Wednesdays at 6:30pm [note time change].

What will I do with my Thursday evenings? I’m excited to announce that for 6 weeks starting in November, I’ll be teaching a short course (off the mat!) on the contemporary History of Yoga at the Dancing Elephant called “What is Yoga?”. Have you ever wondered about what’s at the core of “yoga” as it goes more mainstream; and what is ‘authentic’ among all of the different classes offered at studios these days; or where yoga comes from in general? Are you a history buff who just loves to delve into specific topics and learn what was going on ‘way back when’? Look no further. And mark your calendars now. It’s going to be a nice stretch for the brain muscles – nice, gentle, and soothing, aummm.

More information, including registration, can be found on the Dancing Elephant website or by contacting me. Further details will follow shortly, so watch this space!

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Find your Flow this Fall

What a beautiful Maine summer. Who can blame you if you spent it outside drinking in the warm sunshine, sea breezes and cool water, and if maybe you lost your yoga practice somewhere back in June or July? At least you were getting plenty of exercise and fresh air, right?

Suddenly the days start getting shorter, the nights cooler, and the body starts to register this shift in the seasons. Much as we want to hang onto every last ray of summer sun, the fall rhythms and autumn foliage bring back that comforting feeling of routine. We are reminded of the ephemerality of all things, that summer will come around again next year, and the year after that, and so on. Short of a vacation to the tropics, we can’t escape the cooling temperatures and growing darkness any more than we can reverse our own aging process. As Patanjali writes in the Yoga Sutras, “Clinging to life, flowing by its own potency, exists even in the wise.”

Resistance to change may be natural, but it’s also avoidable. Yoga reminds us that we can come back to ourselves, to our own body and breath, and notice how we’re feeling after another quarter turn around the sun. We come back to our yoga practice (sadhana) and welcome the warming asana flows on a cold morning, the inner light of calming meditation on a dark evening, and the fellowship of sharing these practices in community (sangha) in the context of a group class.

This is another way of saying that no matter how long you’ve been away, the mat will always welcome you back. The body and mind will always thank you for taking the time to return to your practice. We may not be able to stop the flow of time, but we can ease our own suffering by not resisting the flow of life. And yoga practice helps us to do this. So as the leaves begin to turn, take a moment to reflect on your practice, on the goals and intentions you want to set for the next season, the changes you’d like to make, and how you want to find your flow this autumn – through yoga practice or otherwise.

My weekly class schedule remains mostly unchanged through the Fall, and will be confirmed over the coming weeks. For now, I’m pleased to announce a new (for me) Wednesday morning Vinyasa Flow class, 9am at The Dancing Elephant, Rockland, which I will be teaching from September 14 onwards. This means that Wednesday morning Prana Kriya Yoga will no longer be offered in Thomaston; but the Friday 9am PKY class will continue as normal in Rockland. More changes to come; watch this space.

Wherever you find yourself this season, keep practicing. And if you happen to be in midcoast Maine and in search of your daily yoga fix, don’t resist: come join in the fun! Namaste.

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Special Event: Yoga Mala on August 9 at The Dancing Elephant

Wow, where has this summer gone? Suddenly it’s August and time for a Yoga Mala! YES!!!

Join me and Kristi Williamson on Tuesday, August 9, 6pm at the Dancing Elephant as we complete 108 salutes to the late-summer sun. We’ll perform this in 4 sets with breaks in between, so don’t worry if that triple digit number is intimidating. Yes, it is physically intense, no doubt. But the collective energy will build through the process and culminate in a lovely relaxation with live music, meditation, and refreshments to follow.

It will be a very special evening, and I’m getting very excited for it. 108 rounds of breathing in unison … Ahhhh… I highly encourage you to come and challenge yourself, experience the power of this group practice, and step outside of the typical class context for a magical evening of sweat and sangha!

Note, this will be in place of my Tuesday evening 5:30 vinyasa flow class, and begins at 6pm. The Mala (108 sun salutations) will take approximately 2 hours, with the last half hour devoted to music, chanting, and meditation. Give your practice a boost, experience the community of local yogis, and send your spirit soaring.

This is an event not to be missed! See you on the mat. Om.

 

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Happy Summer! New Classes in Rockland & Rockport

Happy Summer! How’s your yoga practice? Between summer solstice, the full moon, and International Yoga Day, what better way to begin this new cycle than by either recommitting to your practice or starting down the yoga road for the first time?  None that I can think of. So get on your mat; take the yoga journey.

Great weather in the first solid week of summer means most Mainers may not set foot in a studio – but yoga practice should be a constant companion rather than a fair-weather friend. As B.K.S. Iyengar writes, “The person who practices yoga regularly will not become a victim but a master of his or her circumstances and time. The yoga practitioner lives to love and serve the world. This is the essence of life. Peace within, peace without, and peace in the individual, in the family unit, in society, and in the world at large.” Do yoga for peace, yoga for your health, or yoga to find your Self – whatever your motivation, keep practicing. The benefits will be endless.

Point of story: seasons change; the practice remains. Plus, long summer days means there’s plenty of time to fit in a class and still enjoy the great outdoors.  This is just a friendly reminder from the teacher to not let the summer sunshine distract you from your practice… And also a courtesy notice that I’m adding more classes to my teaching schedule – so there are more opportunities than ever to find a convenient class to fit into your week.

Do you yearn for a simple, authentic yogasana class to get grounded and centered? I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching Hatha Yoga at the Samoset in Rockport from the first of July. Come practice Friday afternoons at 4 p.m. (starting July 1) and Sunday mornings, 10:15-11:30 a.m. (starting July 3). More details to follow, but start getting ready for July in Rockport!

Wait, there’s more: I’ve also added a Tuesday evening class at the Dancing Elephant in Rockland. No more fat Tuesdays: from 5:30-7 p.m., we’ll be doing Vinyasa Flow to get the body, breath, sweat, everything flowing. Come join me starting next week, June 28, and we’ll salute the summer sun, getting stretched and toned, and radiating light from within. Ahh….

Keep up the great work, I’ll see you on the mat!

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Free Yoga in Rockland this week!

Calling all yogis in midcoast Maine! Free yoga is on offer this week at the Dancing Elephant in Rockland; this is an event not to be missed!

In celebration of my new teaching schedule at the Dancing Elephant, we’re inviting anyone who has even a passing interest in yoga to come sample my new class offerings: Friday morning at 9 a.m., I’ll be teaching Prana Kriya Yoga. And this week, June 10, it’s absolutely, 100% free! If you’ve been wondering what all the buzz is about, this is your chance to sample this special practice. Not your usual sun salute and vinyasa fare, Prana Kriya combines specific movements, or kriyas, with the breath to energize and stimulate mind and body. So put the finishing touches on your week here aligning with the breath. Also, I must add that my parents love it, which means: No prior yoga experience is necessary, open to everyone.

Saturday morning you hit the snooze button and then eventually drag yourself out of bed thinking, ‘I don’t care what I do for the rest of the day – I just need a yoga class, any class, stat!’ Does that sound like you? This is your class. Starting from now, on Saturday mornings at 10:30, I’ll be teaching All Levels Yoga, a hatha-based asana class to get your weekend started right. Get it free on June 11. Nothing fancy here, just good, solid yoga basics suitable for every-body, from beginner to advanced, as the name suggests.

And that’s not all — Community Yoga begins on Sunday, June 12. This is essentially the same as All Levels Yoga, but with a special invitation to all of those aspiring or curious would-be yogis out in the community who have for one reason or another never made it to class. There’s a special incentive, too: $5 suggested donation is all we ask. Nobody will be turned away (unless we can’t fit you in the room!). The intention is to expand the yoga circle and to build community here on Sundays, so basically what I’m saying is, obviously everyone should come to this class, and also –  bring a friend!

Om shanti, I’ll see you on the mat!

 

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Prana Kriya Yoga comes to midcoast Maine this week!

Om shanti. I’ve been waiting all year for this and finally the moment has arrived: Prana Kriya Yoga of the Yogi Ashokananda School comes to US shores beginning this week in midcoast Maine! I’m so pleased to be able to share this practice with such a fabulous local yoga community.

You may be wondering, first of all, what is Prana Kriya Yoga, and next, what’s the big deal?

Prana Kriya is a dynamic practice that works to harmonize the physical movements (kriyas) with the energy flows in the different layers of the body. A process of awakening dormant energy (kundalini) in the body, Prana Kriya Yoga has long been regarded by yoga masters in India as a powerful anti-aging technique that works to oxygenate and decarbonize the blood, thereby rejuvenating the brain and spinal centers and preventing tissue decay.

The kriya practices involve active exercises to strengthen the heart; breath work to expand the lungs and train the mind; and meditations to align the body, mind, breath, and consciousness. The result over time is a calmer and clearer mind, deeper and more even breath, a stronger and more detoxified body, and a more balanced emotional body, leading to a greater sense of confidence and creativity in one’s life.

Maybe you have heard people talk about the ‘yoga high’ experienced after an intense yoga session – or perhaps you’ve felt it yourself. In my experience, Prana Kriya gives you a yoga high like no other. But no matter what superlatives I might use to describe the practice, you really have to experience the effects for yourself.

And, alas, here’s your opportunity, Mainers: Classes start at Thomaston Yoga Studio at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesdays from  June 1. Drop-ins are welcome, although it is advisable to email in advance to kathpullumyoga[at]gmail.com to book a place.

Then, from next week, June 10th to be exact, Friday Prana Kriya classes come to the Dancing Elephant in Rockland starting at 9 a.m. All welcome; no need to book in advance.

Come to one or both – 2 Prana Kriya classes in a week will leave you feeling like a new person. But don’t take my word for it; come try it yourself.

Prana Kriya Yoga is a great compliment to hatha, or other asana practices, as well as meditation. Peruse my full teaching schedule, and find the class that works best for you. This summer, I highly encourage you to expand your yoga horizons – and why not begin by trying out Prana Kriya?

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teaching prana kriya at Ashok Tree Ashram, Tiruvannamalai, India